New York voters are calling medical marijuana a “no-brainer” according to a new poll that found 10-1 backing for allowing doctors to prescribe the drug.
The Quinnipiac University polling data released on Monday morning finds that New York voters support the legalization of marijuana 88 – 9 percent.
A significantly smaller majority of New Yorkers, 57 – 39 percent, support the legalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Support for recreational marijuana is strongest among voters 18 to 29 years old with 83 percent in favor of legalization, while majorities of voters over 65 years old and Republicans both against legalization.
These latest figures reinforce what has been a tepid political push to open the legal marijuana regime in New York, one of the only Northeast states without an active medical marijuana program. As part of his State of the State Address last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a pilot program to allow 20 hospitals throughout the state to prescribe marijuana. Sienna College polling conducted last month found that 49 percent of New Yorkers would prefer to skip the pilot stage in favor of full statewide legalization
Details on dispensary regulation and management from the New York State Department of Health have not yet been announced, however state officials have been quick to address concerns of federal prosecution for dealing in what remains a Schedule 1 illegal drug.
"The Justice Department has said they're not going to prosecute people who are acting under a strong state medical marijuana law, but that is a very different question from whether the FDA and the Medicare system and others will work with a hospital that is essentially violating federal law," Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chairman of the State Health Committee, told public radio station WNYC.
In response, Dr. Nirav Shah, New York’s Health Commissioner, told NPR, "We are going to stay strictly within federal guidance and that way, not imperil any federal funds for any institution that might participate.” Dr. Shah estimates that the state program will take one year to establish and that interest from hospital CEOs is running high.
Despite general support for recreational marijuana, 41 percent of respondents agree that the first months marijuana sales in Colorado has negatively impacted the states image with only 37 percent saying that it has improved.
Only 36 percent of New Yorkers agree with the President Obama’s recent appraisal that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” Whereas 45 percent of voters find that marijuana is more or less equally as harmful as alcohol. A clear 63 percent majority says that they would be “very uncomfortable” with a driver under the influence of marijuana.
The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,488 New York State voters was conducted from February 6 – 10, with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.